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Four U20 stars join Waikato for 2019

By Online Editors
New Waikato loose forward Samipeni Finau has turned out for his province's Under 19 team as well as the national Under 20 side. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

Waikato have announced their Mitre 10 Cup squad for 2019, just days before the competition kicks off, and there’s plenty for fans to get excited about.


Altogether, head coach Andew Strawbridge has named 17 new players for Waikato’s return to the Premiership.

Four of those newbies showed off their wares against international opposition during this year’s Under 20 World Championship.

First five Rivez Reihana, prop Ollie Norris and loose forwards Simon Parker and Samipeni Finau. Reihana, Norris and Parker all started in New Zealand’s final match of the competition in which the Baby Blacks thrashed Ireland 40-17 to secure 7th place.

Waikato have also brought in some excellent talent from outside the region in the form of Solomon Alaimalo, Taleni Seu and Api Naikatini. Unfortunately, Seu will miss the whole season due to a shoulder dislocation incurred during the Super Rugby season while Alaimalo will sit out at least the first half of the competition with a broken arm.

The remainder of the new recruits earned their places from strong showings in Waikato club rugby.

All Blacks Luke Jacobson, Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie and Sevu Reece have been included but will play little to no part in the campaign.


The Mooloos will be able to call on the bulk of the team that secured the Championship trophy last season. Of the side that thrashed Otago in the final, only loose forwards Adam Burn and Jordan Manihera and reserves Sosaia Fale and Kylem O’Donnell won’t be back for 2019. Prop Toby Smith and second-rower Laghlan McWhannell will be sidelined for a significant period of the season with injuries, however.

93-cap veteran Dwayne Sweeney will again captain the side. Sweeney debuted for Waikato back in 2002 and is on track to become the province’s first centurion in 15 years. Give the state of the grassroots game in New Zealand, Sweeney could well be the last player to notch up 100 matches for Waikato – or for any province.

“We are pleased that we were able to retain bulk of the squad that helped us gain promotion back into the Premiership,” said Strawbridge.

“We know the new players that have been selected and the current group in the squad are hardworking men and are always looking to grow their game.”


Waikato kick off their season this Saturday with a match against last year’s losing Premiership finalists Canterbury.

2019 Waikato Mitre 10 Cup Squad


Tim Bond (11) Morrinsville Sports

Jahrome Brown (2) Melville

Hamilton Burr (*) Hautapu

Sam Cooper (*) Hamilton Old Boys

Samipeni Finau (*) Hamilton Old Boys

Haereiti Hetet (5) Otorohanga

Josh Iosefa-Scott 20) Melville

Murray Iti (23) Otorohanga

Luke Jacobson (10) Hautapu

Mitch Jacobson (37) Hautapu

Ayden Johnstone (21) Hautapu

Sosefo Kautai (21) Hamilton Marist

Sekope Lopeti-Moli (9) Hautapu

Laghlan McWhannell (13) Hautapu

Api Naikatini (*)

Ollie Norris (*) Hautapu

Simon Parker (*) Hautapu

Taleni Seu (*) Melville

Antonio Shalfoon (*) Te Awamutu Sports

Toby Smith (57) Hamilton Old Boys

Samisoni Taukeiaho (23) Fraser Tech

James Thompson (*) Hautapu

James Tucker (34) Hamilton Marist

Manawa Veitayaki (*) Otorohanga


Solomon Alaimalo (*) Hamilton Marist

Tyler Campbell (25) University

Matty Lansdown (22) Fraser Tech

Anton Lienert-Brown (19) University

Damian McKenzie (24) University

Brandon Mudzekenyedzi (*) Hautapu

Declan O’Donnell (34) Melville

Carlos Price (*) Hamilton Marist

Sevu Reece (33) Hamilton Old Boys

Rivez Reihana (*) Melville

Louis Rogers (*) University

Fletcher Smith (12)

Jack Stratton (11) Hautapu

Bailyn Sullivan (7) Hamilton Marist

Dwayne Sweeney (93) Morrinsville Sports

Raniera Takarangi (8) Hamilton Old Boys

Valynce Te Whare-Crosby (*) Fraser Tech

Newton Tudreu (*) Hamilton Marist

Quinn Tupaea (12) Hamilton Old Boys

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finn 5 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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